Members of No. 5 Wing 508 Squadron Australian Air Force Cadets (AAFC) and Australian Navy Cadets (ANC) – TS Tamar revived an ancient tradition in the city of Launceston, Tasmania, when they were granted Freedom of Entry on March 21. 

Freedom of Entry stems from medieval Europe where cities were walled to protect citizens. Permission for the military to enter the city would only occur once they had earned the trust of the people. 

Today, Freedom of Entry is more a ceremonial honour to acknowledge dedication of service to the city and demonstrates the relationship that exists between these Tasmanian cadet units and their local area. 

Australian Army Cadets paraded in support of fellow cadets and the Australian Army Band Tasmania provided musical support. 

More than 100 cadets paraded at Prince’s Square and were greeted by Mayor Albert van Zetten and granted official Freedom of Entry.  

Mayor van Zetten said many residents may never had seen a Freedom of Entry parade and conferral ceremony before.

"It's quite visually spectacular and from speaking with those taking part, they were all very excited to be involved in a tradition that is steeped in history,” Mayor van Zetten said.

"It's particularly poignant this year because 2021 marks the 100th anniversary of the Air Force and the 80th anniversary of the Air Force Cadets.”

Australian Air Force Cadets Group Captain Mark Dorward said while cities were no longer walled, Freedom of Entry indicated the pride a local municipality had in its long association with the military units involved.

“The cadet youth that stand here today have chosen to make a difference through a commitment to being part of something bigger,” Group Captain Dorward said. 

“As the world faces one of the greatest modern challenges of our time, I am both honoured and humbled to witness the unity, the pride and the freedom shared between these cadet units and the City of Launceston.” 

The Commanding Officer No. 508 Squadron, Squadron Leader Neill MacRae, said cadets had been anticipating the ceremony for weeks.

“No. 508 Squadron has since its inception been a very community-focused squadron,” he said. 

“Our involvement in the Launceston community is well known and each year we represent many organisations and participate in many community and council events.”

The AAFC was originally formed in 1941 as the Air Training Corps to provide pre-entry training for the RAAF.

“We now have more than 8000 cadets around Australia, based at 143 units, with over 400 civilian volunteers who assist,” Squadron Leader MacRae said.